Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, sat down for a wide-ranging chat with POLITICO https://t.co/rvZ0DlYqL5
— POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) August 3, 2017
Politico Europe published an interview with EU president Jean-Claude Juncker on 3 August and it’s… odd. In his office, on the 13th floor of the European Commission’s Berlaymont Building, Juncker says:
“There is really nothing to complain about.“
According to Politico, economic growth and falling unemployment, combined with decreasing deficits in the budgets of member states lead Juncker to conclude that:
“there is something better to report than a year ago that is not dependent on my mood, but on facts.“
In typical fashion, the interview continues with Juncker trying to claim this development. When asked, Jucker claims a sizeable share of the credit for the Commission, adding that he doesn’t get his fair share, but that by now he is “too old, too experienced” to be bothered by ‘national capitals claiming the credit and Brussels getting the blame’. Too old to be bothered, but not too old to complain, apparently.
Juncker showed some detachment from reality when criticising President Trump. He said he had already “explained” to Trump that he “should stop wishing for others to imitate the British” by leaving the EU, forgetting that this is not something you can ‘explain’ – it’s something you might wish for. Juncker continued by mocking Trump for the way he runs the White House, calling it ‘disorganised’:
“We are better organized than the Trump administration. That is because if there are any internal difficulties, those difficulties are fixed in a direct conversation instead of by firing people.“
An alternative explanation would be, that those difficulties are not actually fixed. Or that, apparently, there is no pressure on the Commission that causes mistakes to lead to firing? It is telling that Juncker is so proud of a lack of public accountability.
But it is in claiming responsibility for peace in the Balkans, that Juncker gets almost… obscene.
“But if you take away the European perspective, then we will again experience what we experienced in the 1990s. In this respect, the stability of the composition of the European Union is a prerequisite for the Balkans not being at war again. I hope [Trump] understood that.“
In the 1990’s, a political union much like the EU broke up, because it could no longer keep its multicultural population together, and spiralled into ethnic violence. The EU’s predecessor, The European Economic Community – this was before the 1993 Maastricht Treaty – became involved, but failed to bring peace. That Juncker, whose EU keeps claiming it has been responsible for peace for over 70 years, now claims the EU is ‘prerequisite’ for peace makes no sense. It is almost insulting.
Juncker will spend his vacation in Austria, where he will be busy with not understanding the reason people read crime thrillers:
“That talk about Trump, Clinton, Bush. And because I know these guys and don’t see them described accurately, I’ll write the author a letter.“
He’ll also re-read 1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies, which Juncker highly recommended:
“The book describes the situation in 1913 in a mood of peacefulness all over Europe. Then the war broke out. I can’t get rid of the thought that it can happen again. But because there is the European Union, it doesn’t need to happen.“
It’s unclear what’s worse. The fact that Junker seems to think that 2017 is as peaceful as 1913, or that he thinks that the catalyst of much of the continent’s present unrest is actually its safeguard.